That Republican presidential aspirant Rick Santorum is a climate change denier will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been watching the GOP candidates these past months. Virtually the entire field has expressed doubt that climate change is occurring or that humans have anything to do with it — or both.
But the depth of Santorum’s disdain for climate change science — and for those who’re concerned about environmental risks posed by oil drilling and gas fracking — may ring alarm bells for moderates who think America should address carbon pollution.
Santorum secured a leading spot in the Republican presidential primary contest by finishing a close second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday.
Known heretofore mainly as the “family values candidate,” he is an “out-and-out denier” of climate change, according to an article in Grist, “Santorum v. Romney: The climate is screwed either way”.
In the article, Lisa Hymas quotes Santorum as telling former Fox News commentator Glenn Beck in June 2011: “There is no such thing as global warming.”
The former Pennsylvania senator was as emphatic with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. In an interview posted on YouTube, Santorum told Rush Limbaugh, also in June, that the concept global warming caused by manmade carbon emissions is “patently absurd” and “an excuse for more government control of your life” .
“I believe the Earth gets warmer, and I also believe the Earth gets cooler,” Santorum says. “And I think history points out that it does that. The idea that man, through the production of [carbon dioxide] – which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas – is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd .”
Santorum’s support of traditional fossil fuels over green energy solutions also is well-documented.
This past October, the progressive publication Think Progress, reported that a mandatory campaign disclosure form had revealed that Santorum works as a consultant for Consol Energy, a large coal mining company that’s also involved in hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania. Think Progress reporter Lee Fang wrote:
“The disclosure, revealed earlier this week, comes as a surprise because Santorum has never mentioned the fact that he works for a lobbying firm, nor do any state and federal lobbying disclosures have him listed as a lobbyist or contractor to such a company.”
The disclosure raised questions about whether Santorum has competing allegiances to the public and the fossil fuel company paying his way:
“Consol Energy is one of the country’s largest coal mining companies that also has substantial involvement in hydraulic fracking in Pennslyvania. According to the company’s website, it is “the leading eastern U.S. gas producer and our future growth is centered in the Marcellus Shale.” ThinkProgress has attended multiple Santorum campaign stops, and the former senator almost always spends a few minutes extolling the virtues of fracking in the Marcellus Shale region:
“– During a campaign stop in Iowa in July, Santorum said: “You know what the Marcellus Shale is? It’s the largest natural gas found in the history of the country, the second largest natural gas field in the world! Its under Pennslyvania, and we are drilling, baby, drilling. Everywhere. ” The remarks are typical of a Santorum stump speech. He never discloses that the “we” when he says “we are drilling, baby” might refer to his employer, Consol Energy.”
The article went on to raise questions about Santorum’s other job as a consultant with American Continental Group, a corporate lobby firm whose clients include Comcast, the Association of Mortgage Investors, Credit Suisse Group, Monsanto, Toyota Motors and General Electric.
It raised a question about whether Santorum, whose jobs plan calls for cutting the corporate income tax to zero, is too beholden to big businesses.
As far as climate is concerned, the ACG group’s client roster includes both friend and foe. Toyota makes some of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world, helping reduce carbon emissions. General Electric has a large stake in the solar, wind and efficient lighting industries.
Monsanto, however, worries environmentalists because it produces and promotes pesticides and Genetically Modified seeds that threaten the environment and organic farming.
Not every Republican presidential candidate views climate change as a hoax. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman warned that the climate- and evolution-denying positions put forth by Santorum and others in the field place Republicans on the “wrong side of science,” risking credibility with Americans in a general election.
Mitt Romney, still considered the front runner for the Republican nomination, has said that humans’ greenhouse gas emissions “contribute” to global warming and he’s also said that, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” Sierra Club has rounded up these dueling statements on a video “Mitt debates Mitt on climate change.“